Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A tendency to stress the negative or unfavorable or to take the gloomiest possible view.
  • noun The doctrine or belief that this is the worst of all possible worlds and that all things ultimately tend toward evil.
  • noun The doctrine or belief that the evil in the world outweighs the good.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In metaphysics:
  • noun The doctrine that this world is the worst possible.
  • noun The doctrine that the development of the universe has such a law that it must ultimately reach, or at least tend toward, the same nonexistence from which it sprang.
  • noun The tendency to exaggerate in thought the evils of life, or to look only upon its dark side; a melancholy or depressing spirit or view of life.
  • noun The worst possible condition; the point of greatest deterioration.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Metaph.) The opinion or doctrine that everything in nature is ordered for or tends to the worst, or that the world is wholly evil; -- opposed to optimism.
  • noun A disposition to take the least hopeful view of things.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A general belief that bad things will happen.
  • noun The doctrine that this world is the worst of all possible worlds.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the feeling that things will turn out badly
  • noun a general disposition to look on the dark side and to expect the worst in all things

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French pessimisme (on the model of optimisme, optimism), from Latin pessimus, worst; see ped- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin pessimus ("worst"), superlative of malus ("bad").

Examples

  • I used just now the term pessimism; but that was doubtless in a great measure because I have been turning over a collection of the extraordinarily vivid drawings of Honoré Daumier.

    Picture and Text 1893

  • (Geismar, p. 183.) 16 Two striking stories in which the pessimism is the central thesis, and contemporaneous with White Fang, are "The Sun Dog Trail," and "The White Man's Way," both published in a later collection.

    Le Milieu, Le Moment, La Race: Literary Naturalism in Jack London's White Fang

  • Lost in the pessimism is the fact that 20 out of 24 S&P 500 technology companies that have reported earnings so far have beaten Wall Street estimates.

    Stromata Blog:

  • Lost in the pessimism is the fact that 20 out of 24 S&P 500 technology companies that have reported earnings so far have beaten Wall Street estimates.

    An Illusion of Recession?

  • That which they call pessimism in Swift and in Byron is only a burning, sharp protest against the imperfection of life and man.

    The Man Who Was Afraid

  • The reason for my pessimism is the imbalances in trade between the members: Japan, United States, Europe and Asia.

    Organizing for Global Growth

  • "It depends on what you call pessimism," Lorne rejoined.

    The Imperialist

  • That which they call pessimism in Swift and in Byron is only a burning, sharp protest against the imperfection of life and man.

    The Man Who Was Afraid

  • But his pessimism is thankfully not shared by the wider group.

    Evan Dawson

  • Actually, the reason for liberal pessimism is idealism.

    Matthew Yglesias » Where Are the Obama Boosters?

Comments

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  • "'Tis almost as bad as Lovell's 'Farmhouse,' and that would be at least a thousand fathoms deep in the dead sea of pessimism." -A letter from 1794

    Coleridge adapted this word from the French word pessimisme, which means "the worst."

    March 5, 2018